How Do Progressive Jackpot Slots Work?

08th August6 min read

Progressive jackpot slots are the celebrities of the slot world. They attract a huge and loyal following of players to the life-changing jackpot numbers and captivating features. Various jackpot analytics blogs have spawned across the Internet as well, with impressive statistics and graphs that track every hit and payout on the Internet. In this article, we’ll investigate the mathematics behind progressive jackpot slots. How does one jackpots gain more popularity than another, and which one should we play? Find out below.

Standalone Vs. Network Jackpots

Even the casual player would have observed that some jackpots are much bigger than others. The size of the prize pools are directly correlated to the number of people that play the game. This leads to the question: how are some games so much more popular than others? How do so many casinos host the same game? Well, there are three types of progressive slot games: standalone, local and network progressive jackpots.

Standalone Progressive Jackpot Slots

A standalone progressive has a jackpot ticker within a single game. Only wagers placed on the specific game contribute the jackpot. As you would expect, these jackpots are quite small (£1,000 to £10,000) and are much easier to win than the network slots. At times, the casino may get the ball rolling by adding a few thousand quid into the prize pool themselves, especially when the progressive slot is newly launched. You’ll find standalone progressive jackpots at Pocket Fruity and mFortune; these two casinos develop (at least a majority of) their own games in-house, so their games are only hosted at a single casino and are not part of any jackpot network. Our favourite standalone progressive slots include Which Witch and Cop the Cash 2.

Local Progressive Jackpots

Local mean that only players of one particular casino contribute to the jackpot, and that only players of that specific casino can win the jackpot. Popular local jackpots include Mega Joker, Tiki Wonders and Super Lucky Frog by NetEnt. This is why you would see different amounts for the same game at different casinos. Sometimes, local jackpots are shared among few games in a specific casino. For example, all of the slot games at Chomp Casino are connected to a £250,000 jackpot.

Why do casino operators choose to host these local jackpots? If the prize numbers are attractive enough, these local jackpots become a unique selling point for the casino. Besides, local jackpots enable casino operators to tailor the content to their players needs, without the hassle of coding their own game. Local jackpots are beneficial to players too, since the odds of winning the jackpot are usually better than that of network slots. If you can spot a local jackpot slot, play it!

Network Progressive Slots

Network jackpots are those linked to a centrally-located server. Every time you play the game, the casino will communicate with the jackpot server. It doesn’t matter which casino you play at, as the outcome of the game will be determined on a centrally located server.

Network jackpots, or pooled jackpots, are hosted at several online casinos at a time and are played by millions of players across the world. This allows the jackpot to accumulate to astronomical sums of money. Microgaming’s Mega Moolah boasts an average sum of £3.6 million, while NetEnt’s Mega Fortune has set the world record for largest slots payout – €17.8 million in January 2013. When players spot the size of these jackpots, they play it more often and the jackpot gets even larger!

Microgaming’s jackpot games can be found at 400 different online casinos, making it one of the largest pooled jackpots. NetEnt’s famous jackpots are found across 90 casinos. Casinos fight tooth and nail/pay to get these jackpots on their roster, so that they can attract more customers to their site.

There are smaller progressive slot networks too, such as the Probability jackpots. Probability is a British casino software that powers 13 mobile casinos. Their mobile games lineup includes five jackpot slots, such as Knight’s Jackpot, Loopy Lotto, Sweet Treats and Pharaoh’s Fortunes. These jackpots usually accumulate to four figures, although it has recently broke the £100,000 payout! We should never underestimate the smaller jackpots...

Other Jackpot Systems

Casinos also attract players by offering a tiered or multi-level jackpotsystem. For example, Playtech’s Marvel series offers four jackpots (Ultimate Power, Super Power, Extra Power and Power). A small portion of each bet is divided into these four jackpots. For example, NetEnt’s Mega Fortune takes 1% of the bet to the RAPID jackpot, 1% to the MAJOR jackpot and 5.39% to the MEGA jackpot.

The smaller jackpots are usually about £100 and these are triggered every week, if not more frequently. Most players are more than happy to walk home with their consolation prize. It also reminds players that these jackpots are winnable, and more often than not, the same player returns to the same game for the bigger prizes.

Sometimes, multiple games are connected to the a single jackpot; the infamous Mega Moolah jackpot is connected to Mega Moolah Isis, Mega Moolah Summertime and Mega Moolah 5 Reel Drive. This means that you can play at any of these slot games to win the jackpot, and all of its players contribute to the same prize pool.

A Secret From the Slot Industry...

A slots game designer revealed on reddit that some progressive slots have a threshold that they must hit before it can award a winning. He explains with an example:

“Let’s say a progressive jackpot slot must hit $10,000 before it is won. Every time a player places a wager, the software’s Random Number Generator sets the odds of winning a jackpot to 1/10,000,000 is true. As the “Must Hit” goal gets closer, the odds slowly becomes 1/1,000,000. Later, it becomes 1/100,000 and so on. The odds will become low enough that it is easily won. However, every player then has an equal chance of hitting the jackpot and there is no way of knowing which player will hit the jackpot.”

There is no way to identify which slot game follows these design rules, and the aforementioned slot designer mainly designed software for land-based slot machines. On the other end of the spectrum, there are progressive jackpot slots that reset a minimum amount, so that the progressive jackpot becomes more desirable. Mega Moolah is a famous jackpot that resets the jackpot to £1 million. Such huge jackpots are usually network progressives and can only be afforded by a powerhouse like Microgaming.

How Do You Win a Progressive Jackpot?

The first thing that you have to do is to qualify for the jackpot. In some cases (especially the smaller jackpot games), the jackpot can only be triggered if the player places the maximum bet level. However, most popular slots accept every bet as an entry into the progressive jackpot.

After that, there is no proven strategy to increase your chances of winning a progressive jackpot. Some players advocate waiting for the jackpot to pass its break-even point, or the point when the game’s RTP has passed 100% or when the jackpot has grown larger than the average hit. These theories are not true since online progressive slots are governed by a random number generator.

These RNGs are very complicated software and are audited by independent testing organisations and gambling regulators – they’ll run the RNG millions of times and ensure that there is no recognisable pattern in the outcomes. Sadly, there is no way of getting around this clever bit of software and winning the jackpot truly depends on your luck. To maximise your chances, it would be sensible to spread out your budget and try to afford as many spins as possible. 

Which Progressive Jackpot Should You Play?

If you’re on a tight budget, check out Tiki Temple 5p at JackpotJoy Casino. As its name suggests, you can play with as little as 5p. This slot has paid an average of £89,164 per win too, which is not a bad return on investment.

If you go by the highest payout numbers, you must try Mega Fortune. It awarded €17.8 million to a man in Helsinki! The mobile version is just as rewarding, as a Norwegian took home €2.45 million on Mega Fortune Touch. This game has 5-reels, 25-paylines, free spins and 5x multipliers; as well as two smaller local jackpots. If you aim for the stars, even if you miss you’ll land on the moon, right?

If you’re a fan of mini games, check out mFortune’s Buster Safe. There are four mini games and a complete storyline. You’ll have to sneak past the nosy neighbours on your getaway, crack a safe and test your fingerprints too! Action aside, Buster Safe is a low-risk slot so you’ll be continuously rewarded with lots of small wins.

My fellow colleagues sniff out the hottest jackpots to play; they’ve even got the low-down from winners themselves.

How Do You Withdraw Progressive Jackpot Winnings?

This depends on the casino. Some casinos, especially smaller ones, would pay out a certain amount each week/month. For example, Pocket Fruity pays £10,000 per month. These withdrawal policies are set out in their terms and conditions. Remember: if you are a UK resident, you do not need to pay any taxes on your jackpot winnings.

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